Why You Should Have Digitized Crisis Communication Plans

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Imagine you’re involved in one of today’s most dreaded corporate crises: Your organization is the source of a major social media gaffe, which starts to go viral during non-business hours. When faced with a fast-moving emergency of this kind, how would you and your stakeholders respond? How soon would you be able to get ahead of the problem?Information moves quickly in our digital world, and your organization needs to be able to respond quickly and effectively to all manner of crises. However, traditional, hard-copy crisis communication plans do not enable fast response, real-time information-sharing and easy updates. It’s no wonder many leading corporations are quickly moving over to digitized communication plans to ensure their crisis communication strategy—through public relations, social media and other means—is as agile as possible.

Today, we take a look at some of the reasons your own organization should consider digitizing your crisis communication plans:

  1. Access for all.

At this point, your crisis plans might be housed in a single binder or distributed in several copies for each department. During an emergency, these documents can be difficult to access, especially for employees who are in the field or working remotely. Since the information is centralized, only a few stakeholders can access it at once. Then, they must distribute the information throughout the organization, which can be a slow process.  

In the above social media example, you might have your relevant communication plans housed at your office, but that isn’t helpful to your social media manager or executives in the moment of crisis. Instead, they need to access the relevant communication plans immediately in order to be able to respond appropriately.

Digitizing your plans helps to achieve this improved level of access. Using mobile crisis management appsand Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms, you can provide all stakeholders with relevant communication plans, contact lists, emergency protocol documents, maps and other key data, all on their mobile devices. By digitizing this important information, you decentralize it, making it available to everyone in your organization at any time. This puts relevant data in their hands precisely when they need it most, which empowers them to perform their crisis communication duties quickly and decisively.

  1. Real-time information sharing.

Digital plans also enable you to push real-time updates and alerts to your crisis response team, as well as all relevant employees, which can help to speed and streamline response during an emergency.

In today’s fast-paced corporate environment, the ability to send information, in real-time, directly to your stakeholders can be the difference between a significant crisis event and minor blip that is handled immediately. In our social media example, you want your response to the gaffe to contain the most accurate and up-to-date information as possible. Leveraging mobile technology can help you achieve the necessary agility.

  1. Easier updating.

Hard-copy communication plans are a chore to update and re-distribute to your stakeholders. And yet if you don’t regularly update the information housed in these important documents, you may be caught unprepared for your next crisis.

Digitized plans can be quickly and easily updated at any time. You can even send a notification to each stakeholder to inform him or her that the plans have been updated. This instills a sense of confidence in your employees that can have a significant impact on the success of a crisis communication strategy.

  1. Multiple paths of communication.

With hard-copy communication plans, you have a very limited number of options for disseminating information—usually, a phone call tree, word-of-mouth and the occasional email.

Digitized crisis plans enable you to take advantage of multiple paths of communication, such as alerts through an app, text messages and email. Research has found that multiple paths of communication can improve the receipt rate by up to 80 percent, which lets you know that your stakeholders are receiving your alerts, loud and clear.

Are your crisis plans digitized? If not, do you plan on moving over to a digital platform this year or next? Why or why not?

Crisis Management Plan Audit Ebook